LBS troubles

Some material about location-based services... and how the user adoption of such artifact has been somewhat delayed (a topic I addressed copiously in my ETech 2008 presentation): First, this IHT article entitled "Still searching for profit in location-based services". It addresses how mobile operators are hoping that LBS can lead to new profit for quite a while now. The main issue is that while car navigation devices has been successfully adopted, other technologies typically remains "crude and unhelpful - and unused - for mobile navigation":

"Despite the increasing availability of GPS-enabled mobiles, many consumers are still reluctant to pay for mobile navigation, said Velipekka Kuoppala, a vice president for sales and marketing at Bluesky Positioning (...) How soon will the sales come? André Malm, a senior analyst at Berg Insight, offers this forecast: Global sales from location-based services will more than triple to $740 million annually by 2014, as the number of GPS users rises to 70 million globally from 16 million this year.

But for that to happen, Malm acknowledges, operators will have to sell mobile navigation services for which consumers are willing to pay."

David H. Williams at Directions Mag has its own bits about why LBS fails to reach a mature market. He sketches 7 deadly sins:

"Sin #1 - Poorly Identifying Opportunities Sin #2 - Poorly Articulated Customer Value Proposition Sin #3 - Weak Business Case Sin #4 - Inflexible Business Model Sin #5- Flawed Technical and User Design Sin #6 - Inattention to Intellectual Property Sin #7 - Deficient Marketing"

Also very interesting for that matter, Gerhard Navratil and Eva Grum from the Institute for Geoinformation and Cartography (TU Vienna) have a paper about What makes Location-Based Services Fail? that gives a good overview that overlaps with my etech talk. They basically explain how technical solutions, legal restrictions and usability influence the design and efficiency of LBS. What is interesting there is that they show how the failure is systemic, that is to say, how the combination of factors per se leads to a problem in user adoption:

"A reason for failure could be that one of the three influences limits the service. It may be that the technology simply does not allow locating the mobile phone accurate enough or the LBS is not accepted because it is too difficult to use. Also threats of a lawsuit for violation of patents or copyright law may stop an LBS."

Why do I blog this? material for a book about LBS/locative media.